Chamber Opponents Prebut Donohue Address

01-11-2012 // Andrew Joseph

This excerpt is from the National Journal.

With U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Thomas Donohue set to give his annual State of American Business address Thursday, Chamber foes jumped first with their own "prebuttal" on Wednesday, accusing the Chamber of being the puppet of a small number of corporations and using their contributions to push a crooked agenda.

"They represent a handful of wealthy corporations who fund their lobbying budget, and that's it," said Christy Setzer of U.S. Chamber Watch.

In a conference call with reporters, Setzer, Leo Hindery of Patriotic Millionaires, David Arkush of Public Citizen's Congress Watch and Jeremy Symons of the National Wildlife Federation said the Chamber's platform, which the business association says will create jobs, will do no such thing. Instead, the speakers said, the agenda is only about benefiting the Chamber's big donors through targeted tax cuts and a roll back of regulations.

"Nothing that's being suggested in the Chamber's proposals ... will create jobs," said Hindery, who is also a managing partner at the private equity fund InterMedia Partners.

In an email to the Alley, Chamber spokesperson Blair Latoff said the Chamber is working to improve the economy and create jobs. For example, the Chamber is encouraging President Obama to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which is supported by labor unions and the business community, because it will create 20,000 immediate jobs and increase America's oil imports from Canada.

"The Chamber has been intensely focused on jobs since the onset of the financial crisis," Latoff said. "As the jobless rate remains high and the economy grows at a sluggish pace, America cannot afford for Washington to do nothing in 2012."

Latoff continued: "As Tom Donohue will outline in his State of American Business address tomorrow, we need to address the extraordinary fiscal and competitive challenges that are smothering growth and driving away jobs. The Chamber will continue to advocate for policies that will accelerate our economic recovery."

But Symons challenged the Chamber's support for the pipeline, arguing that it would put the environment at risk and create far fewer than 20,000 jobs. The Chamber's advocacy for the pipeline, he said, demonstrates it is controlled by oil companies.

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